OpenOffice is a free office productivity suite. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation manager and drawing program. OpenOffice lets files be saved in standard formats so OpenOffice is not needed to view files created or edited by the program.
NeoOffice is a fully-featured set of office applications (including word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing programs) for Mac OS X. Based on OpenOffice, NeoOffice has integrated dozens of native Mac fneweatures and can import, edit and exchange files with other popular office programs such as Microsoft Office.
Ajax13 is a web-based Office Suite that allows you to create and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Ajax13 also has a sketch tool to do basic diagrams and a media player. The tool supports files in a variety of formats, including those of Microsoft Office and open formats such as .odt.
Audio and Video
Audacity is a free audio recorder and editor. It can also be used to convert files from one audio format to another.
Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types and is a great tool for converting or compressing video files or making simple edits.
HandBrake is a DVD ripper and converter. It is one of the easiest ways to copy DVDs to a computer. Note that Handbrake is very processor intensive, and will run slowly on older machines.
Songbird will help you manage your music files and subscribe to podcasts. It functions in a similar way to iTunes, allowing you to create playlists. Songbird is the only media player which is integrated with the Firefox web browser so you can use it to surf the internet and find audio files to download.
Jubler is used to create text-based subtitles for video. It can be used as an authoring software for new subtitles or as a tool to convert, transform, correct and refine existing subtitles.
VLC (or Video Lan Client) is an audio/video player that will read almost any media format, including DVDs and VCDs. It can be used to author and burn CDs and DVDs, encode video and connect to audio and video streams, and for many other purposes.
LoudBlog is an easy-to-use website platform for publishing audio content on the web. This CMS is designed for podcasts, and offers useful tools like tagging features and RSS integration. Loudblog can also be added on to another CMS, providing the functionality of both platforms. For example, users can edit WordPress pages in Loudblog, which gives them the benefits of a WordPress page and the podcasting tools of Loudblog.
Miro is a browser deigned for watching videos and subscribing to vodcasts. It allows you to grab webpages (including podcasts, video blogs, and BitTorrent feeds) and watch the videos in them full screen, one after the other.
Inkscape is a convenient open source drawing tool for the creation of logos and illustrations. It has capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand or CorelDraw. It supports rendering of shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, transparency, transformations, gradients, patterns and grouping. InkScape uses vector graphics, which means images are scalable with no decrease in image quality.
PDFCreator is a free tool to create PDF files from nearly any Windows application that can print. While many popular programs such as Microsoft Word have built in pdf support, PDFCreator allows movements using less common programs to distribute content in a common format.
Scribus can be used to create layouts for newsletters, stationery, posters, training manuals, technical documentation, business cards and other documents that need flexible layout or sophisticated image handling. It has precise typography controls and image sizing not available in current word processors. Available for Windows, Linux and Mac.
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. Typical uses include creating graphics and logos, resizing and cropping photos, changing colors, combining images, removing unwanted image features and converting between image formats. GIMP can also be used to create animated images. For Windows, Linux and Mac.
GimpShop is a version of the GIMP image editor modified to be more user- friendly for Photoshop users. The interface is adapted to look and feel more like Photoshop and act more like a single, unified program. Available for Windows and Mac.
Mozilla Firefox is considered by many to be the best internet browser available, particularly due to its security features, the global community of developers involved, and the huge range of add-on products that extend its functionality.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
Joomla is a tool which helps people create, manage and publish content on their websites. It is an open-source content management system which makes large websites easier to manage. Joomla also has over seven thousand user-created extensions that add various features to websites.
Wordpress makes publishing and maintaining a website easy. It is also useful for distributing podcasts and video. You can add pages and quickly update content while getting the benefir of Wordpress’s templates that can make a site functional and attractive with minimal effort. You can either get a free, hosted blog at Wordpress.com or, for more control and features, install it on your own server by visiting Wordpress.org.
Drupal allows an individual or a community of users to publish, manage and organise a wide variety of content on a website. It has a steeper learning curve that more simplistic CMS, but many more features.
Open Atrium is a full-on open-source content management system. Built on top of it, it has a set of tools that can be used in much the same way as Basecamp, but can be customized as heavily as needed.
File Transfer Protocols (FTP)
Filezilla is a FTP allows you to upload content from your hard drive to the server that your website is hosted on; you’ll need one if you are hosting the site yourself. Filezilla is a free, open source solution.
Community Building Tools
Vokle lets you can host your own interactive town halls on the web. Users with a webcam and microphone can host discussions where users “call in” on their own computers, like a radio show.
SPIP is a publishing system for websites. This content management system emphasizes user-created templates and plugins. It allows a community of users to collaborate online, creating and developing content. SPIP is designed for “magazine” type sites, where content is organized into distinct sections.
All Our Ideas is a platform that enables groups to collect and prioritize ideas in a transparent, democratic and bottom up way. Organizations use All Our Ideas to set up questionaires about supporter preferences, and then react accordingly.
The Mideast Youth Widget Generator is an easy-to-use tool to generate a widget for your campaign website — widgets are great ways to increase and maintain awareness of an arrested activist, journalist or blogger.
Privacy and Security
Ninja Cloak is a proxy that masks the IP address of the user when browsing online. The user is routed through the Ninja cloak server, making it difficult to trace the original computer. Ninja cloak does not require any software to be downloaded on the user’s computer. However, it only works for accessing websites anonymously.
Tor masks an IP address by sending the client through a series of routers (called the Tor network). One benefit of Tor is that it is a stand alone program rather than a browser based service. This means Tor can mask all sending of data from computer to computer, not just data transmitted to and from websites. This means that even data transfer that does not take place on websites, such as irc transfers, is masked. Tor is often combined with other proxy software such as Polipo.
Martus is database construction software that helps organizations create an encrypted and secure database. It has typically been used to catalogue and report human rights violations. Data is encrypted and saved in multiple locations, protecting it from those who want the information destroyed.
alkasir is software that helps users access blocked sites by routing them through proxy servers. alkasir only uses the proxy servers when attempting to access a site that is on its built in list of blocked sites. Otherwise, it accesses the site normally, which can make it faster than other similar programs. If a site is blocking users but is not on alkasir’s list, users can report it so that alkasir will add the site to its list. alkasir is mainly used in the Middle East.
Ultrasurf is privacy software that routes the user through proxy servers. This helps users stay anonymous online and access blocked sites. It is popular in China for evading government censors.
FrontlineSMS is an open source software that turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a central communications hub. Once installed, the program enables users to send and receive text messages with groups of people through mobile phones. It does not require an Internet connection, and works with existing plans on all GSM phones, modems and networks. Interested? See our beginners’ guide on sending and receiving text messages with large groups using frontline SMS.
RapidSMS is a free and open-source framework for dynamic data collection, logistics coordination and communication. It requires more training than FrontlineSMS but offers more options for analyzing received data, including merging different data sets in real time for a more thorough understanding of complex environments.
Souktel is a web-based application/web service. It can be managed online or by SMS from a mobile handset–so people in different locations can all use it together and it is not tied to a single computer and handset. It’s SMS-based, so it works on any basic phone handset. It’s connected directly to national mobile network gateways, so partners can send thousands of messages instantly without problems. No USB modems required. It’s custom-built to meet specific project needs: We work directly with partners to integrate apps into your website, your project activities, and your community. It’s developed by people in crisis zones, for people in crisis zones: All apps are created in Palestine for use in Gaza, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and other hard-to-access regions. It’s deliberately designed for Arabic-script languages like Standard Arabic, Urdu, Kurdish and Farsi (but all apps work in English script too)
Groundcrew is a platform for using text messaging to run field operations, volunteering, or events. It allows supporters to be contacted based on location. Groundcrew also includes scripting tools so users can create effective communications systems.
TextMark is a commercial tool and a web-based application/web service. TextMarks owns the shortcode 41411, and allows you to make use of the shortcode with a given keyword. When users send messages to 41411 with your keyword, messages can either be forwarded to everyone subscribed to that keyword message-list, or to a webpage (issues a http request which can be handled programmatically if desired) which can be used to send auto-responses back. You can also broadcast SMSs to all subscribers.
IQSMS is a free software using SMS data in a predetermined format. Information is sent to a dedicated central laptop connected to Motorola mobile phones. The IQSMS software aggregates incoming SMS reports into an SQL database. Automated data quality checks, business rules and immediate notifications are sent to users ensuring that only validated data is added to the database. Aggregated PMTCT data is instantly available to district, regional and national managers based on role views.
SMS Matrix vastly expands the functionality of a cell phone’s SMS system. With virtual mobile numbers, for each incoming SMS or Call the system can automatically: forward incoming SMS to your email address, forward incoming SMS to your ‘real’ mobile phone (as text), forward incoming SMS to any phone as Text-to-Speech, forward incoming SMS to any Group of SMS recipients, submit incoming SMS via HTTP to the URL on your server for further processing, or transfer incoming Voice Calls to your ‘real’ phone number. SMSmatrix also provide custom software development for all SMS/Voice related projects.
Tapatio automatically accepts SMS (text message) reports from people participating in an event, allows operators to categorize those reports according to topic and importance, and to rate their reliability, and sends out selected reports to event participants via SMS. Currently all SMS communication happens through Twitter, so everyone who wants to receive SMS from tapatio must have a Twitter account.
TxtAlert is a messaging tool that uses SMS reminders to encourage patients on ART (Anti-Retroviral Treatment) to attend their doctor appointments regularly. The tool works with hospital/clinic medical records system to draw patient data and appointment dates from the system, then sends personal SMS reminders to patients.
Asterisk is known for not being the simplest technology from a UX perspective. Asterisk is basically an automatic call center making use of a special card you put into the server. It is far from intuitive to make this happen and more or less requires a dedicated server. There are 2-3 hosting providers allowing this (all in the US but you will have international calling fees. Setting this up on a box on your own even on a Linux tower at home is ok but will require a static IP for you to make anything efficient happen.
Freedom Fone enables automated, interactive two-way information to be shared through mobile phone networks via SMS and voice. It is accessible, user-friendly, low-cost, scalable, global and does not require Internet access for users and callers alike. Freedom Fone targets ordinary mobile phone users and takes advantage of IVR: Interactive Voice Response or audio voice menus. Other functionality includes SMS, Polls and Leave-a-Message. Freedom Fone is easy to manage via a user-friendly, browser based interface. It is quick to setup and maintain and does not require a great deal of technical know-how.
AudioTagger uses the sound recorder in mobile phones to capture sound in urban spaces. The audio file is then mapped using Google Maps to visualize the location of the audio tags. AudioTagger is a momentary exploration of urban space, using mobile technology to captures a sonic moment. Anybody with a data-enabled mobile phone can participate and contribute to AudioTagger’s exploration of the environment, using the mobile phone as a field recorder. Key Features are Mobile email-enabled and Broadcasts SMS.
Google Voice is a telecommunications service by Google launched on March 11, 2009 and normally available only to US residents. The service is configured and maintained by the user in a web-based application, styled after Google’s e-mail service, Gmail. Google Voice currently provides free PC-to-PC voice (and, optionally, also video) calling worldwide between users of the Google Voice and Video Chat browser plugin and free PC-to-phone calls into North America.
Twitwoop lets you send voice messages into your Twitter account with a phone call. You call one of our worldwide landline numbers, leave a voice message and you’re done. Voice messages from that number will then be posted to the Twitter timeline.
Email2phone is a service that converts ordinary text email into phone alerts that can be delivered to a phone or retrieved by dialing into email2phone.net. Like ordinary email, the email2phone.net phone voice messages are highly interactive with available responses: reply-to, save, delete and skip messages. The system can be used to notify team members or staff members of severe weather conditions, postponements, cancellations or other urgent situations, or to send delivery information or special instructions to customers and delivery drivers.
DialMyCalls enables an organization to contact many people at once via phone. Users record a message and submit a list of phone numbers and a time. The message is then sent to those numbers at the prescribed time. Organizations can use DialMyCalls reach out to supporters at key times or distribute important information over the phone to specific groups.
Ushahidi is a free and open source project with developers hailing from Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, Netherlands and the USA working on it. Their goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.The Ushahidi Platform allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email, web or voice message and visualize it on a map or timeline.
OpenStreetMap (OSM) was founded in July 2004 by Steve Coast. OpenStreetMap data is published under an open content license, with the intention of promoting free use and re-distribution of the data (both commercial and non-commercial). Map data are usually collected using a GPS unit, although this isn’t strictly necessary if an area has already been traced from satellite imagery. Once the data have been collected, they are entered into the database by uploading it on the project’s website. As collecting and uploading data is separated from editing objects, contribution to the project is possible also without using a GPS unit.
HealthMap brings together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health. This freely available Web site integrates outbreak data of varying reliability, ranging from news sources to curated personal accounts to validated official alerts. Through an automated text processing system, the data is aggregated by disease and displayed by location for user-friendly access to the original alert. HealthMap provides a jumping-off point for real-time information on emerging infectious diseases and has particular interest for public health officials and international travelers.
GeoCommons is a free and public version of the GeoIQ platform where anyone can contribute and share open data, easily build shareable maps and collaborate with others.Data and maps within the GeoCommons community are public and can be easily shared with other public websites and users, or embedded in other websites, blogs and wikis to be shared or can be exported via open standards. GeoCommons allows for import, export and share data and maps across a variety of standard formats such as OGC KML, GeoRSS Atom, GeoJSON, Spatialite and GeoPDF.
GeoTime is an award-winning information visualization software package distinguished by its 3D Time Viewer. GeoTime allows to simultaneously visualize geospatial, temporal and link data. GeoTime can facilitate a deeper exploration of data, driving faster, more accurate conclusions and resulting in sound decision making. Integrated within a GIS platform or as a stand-alone application, GeoTime’s advanced analytic transform raw data into actionable intelligence.
Palantir currently offer two products: Palantir Government and Palantir Finance. Both are platforms for integrating, visualizing, and analyzing information. The platforms support many kinds of data including structured, unstructured, relational, temporal, and geospatial. The two products are built for real analysis with a focus on security, scalability, ease of use, and collaboration.
MapBox hosts free custom designed map tiles, detailed documentation to help you add these tiles to your website, and open source tools for power users to make their own map tiles. We also offer paid premium tile hosting and do custom mapping work. In Winter 2011 we will launch a new version TileMill that will radically lower the barrier for making custom maps with your own data.
Managing News originated as a news aggregation and republishing platform heavily integrated with RSS/Atom. Users can track a diverse set of RSS/Atom feeds, visualize them, and republish selected reports on a platform that allows for mapping and pluggable visualizations. Managing News has subsequently added SMS functionality to the system. The system is based on Drupal, and integrates several open source projects including OpenLayers, SimplePie, and many Drupal plug-ins.
Google Map Maker is a Google Maps service that allows you add or edit features, such as roads, businesses, parks, schools and more. Using Google Map Maker tools, you can visually mark locations and add detailed information about these locations. Once you have submitted content, this information may be edited by other users or moderators. At a later time, this content may be published in Google Maps for others to see and use.
GRASS is free Geographic Information System (GIS) software used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics/maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization. GRASS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation.
Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). It runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, and Windows and supports numerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities. It require knowledge of GIS functionalities.
SaTScan is a free software that analyzes spatial, temporal and space-time data using the spatial, temporal, or space-time scan statistics. It is designed to perform geographical surveillance of disease, to detect spatial or space-time disease clusters, and to see if they are statistically significant. SatScan allows also to test whether a disease is randomly distributed over space, over time or over space and time and to evaluate the statistical significance of disease cluster alarms, as well as to perform repeated time-periodic disease surveillance for early detection of disease outbreaks.